Skip to main content

Mississippi River Flood of 1927

Movies Preview

Mississippi River Flood of 1927

Published 1936

Short silent film produced by the Signal Corps of the Mississippi flood of 1927.

Reel 1, flood waters rage through Illinois, carrying houses and debris. Kleinwood, La., is under water. Marooned families, their salvaged possessions, and livestock cling to levees. Sec. of Commerce Hoover meets Red Cross heads. Army troops load equipment on freight cars. Levees are reinforced at Baton Rouge. Coast Guard cutters and miscellaneous craft evacuate people and animals in La. Reel 2, Hoover and Sec. of War Davis inspect flooded areas at Vicksburg and along the River to Natchez. Refugees are inoculated, fed, and given shelter at an Army camp in Louisiana.

The material comes from a 3/4" U-matic video viewing copy made available at the National Archives facility in College Park, MD. The condition of the source material is relatively good for its age. Unfortunately, the transfer to video was badly done with lots of flicker and crooked perspective. Additionally, there are many video artifacts as a result of the age and wear of the video tape. High quality preservation 35mm film exists.

National Archives identifiers

ARC: 24699
NAIL: 111-H-1194

Run time 17:42
Sponsor Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
Audio/Visual silent, bw


Text in quotes are from intertitles. * indicates excellent footage.

Reel 1

00:27 "Early in the spring of 1927 when the streams of the North swollen from melting snows and much rain, began to pour their waters into the Mississippi, it became evident that a new chapter in the history of floods would soon be written."

00:44 "The levees sagged and snapped and the unharnessed waters of the raging Mississippi poured over the land far and wide wreaking distress, misery and death from Illinois to the Delta."

00:61 MS. Fast flowing water, partially submerged houses. Pan up and down stream.

1:23 "The roar of a big crevasse, like the thunder of a rushing railway train, may be heard miles"

1:34 MS. Several torrent shots, soldier with bayonet marching on bank, submerged house in background.

2:24 "Everything under water at Klemwood LA."

2:54 "Marooned on the levee tops with their domestic animals and whatever furniture, bedding and clothes they could save"

MS. Dense packed scene of people and furniture on levee, water and boats on both sides.

3:08 "Unknown thousands of farm animals drowned and starved"

Cows on levee next to barge.

3:22 "Box cars, barges and rafts saved many families until they could be taken to the camps."

Proper women in dresses, heels look out of box car. Various family with young child in raft. Couple next to ramshackle shack.

3:53 "A Noah's Ark of 1927"

Shots of water craft with animals.

4:10 "The Red Cross moved swiftly. Secretary Hoover on the request of the President took charge April 20th."

Group of officials conferring, inclduing Hoover and woman with a Red Cross arm band

4:27 "The US Army is shipping everything that can possibly be spared - in the way of supplies and equipment - to the flood suffers"

Shots of supplies being moved by Negro workmen.

5:00 "Reinforcing the levee at Baton Rouge LA. The way thousands of men worked night and day in rain or shine in frantic efforts to hold the weakening levees."
Negro laborers shoveling onto a levee, lifting sandbags. *

5:22 "Evacuating the Bayou des Glaises country"

Hectic street scene, with goats and people milling about. Boats and barges underway loaded with people, animals, luggage.

5:49 "The great rescue fleet included anything that could float - piroques, rafts, barges, fishing craft, Navy tugs, Coast Guard cutters and river steamers."

Large group of men lifting a raft.

Shot from moving raft of flooded street, submerged houses. *

Negro men wading through water pushing a raft with woman holding child, luggage. *
6:29 "Over 500,000 farm animals were saved and cared for until they could return to their homes."

Line of mules and cattle being moved down a ramp.

6:52 "Moving out"

People loading up boats and pushing off from houses.

7:16 "Rescue steamers churn the yellow tide pushing bargeloads of silend stupefied people, coaxed from their perilous retreats."

7:42 "Planes soaring overhead spot groups on levees or housetops as to send boats to their rescue."

Plane flying. Person sitting on roof, boat pulling up.

8:06 "The victims come in all kinds of boats."

Various boats crowded with people.
CU of woman and child on a crowded boat. *

8:41 "A boat load of rescued cattle on the way to Vicksburg"

9:03 "Aboard the USS Inspector on the Mississippi - between Vicksburg and Baton Rouge"

Steamboat underway.

9:20 "In seeking marooned flood victims, river boats steamed boldly across the flooded fields and over half submerged tree tops."

10:00 end Reel 1

Reel 2

10:11 "Secretary Hoover and Secretary of War Davis at Vicksburg on a tour of th e flooded areas. With them are Jasper Feiser, Acting Nat'l Chairman, Red Cross, and G.E. Patterson, Gen'l Manager of the LC Railroad"

10:40 "Maj Gen Edgar Jadwin, Chief of Engineers US Army, inspecting flood conditions at the mouth of the Yazoo River from the air"

Water plane taking off

11:13 "On the way to Baton Rouge Louisiana"

11:35 "Secretary Davis is making a thorough study all along the route"

CU of officials on moving boat.

12:02 "Down the river from Vicksburg to Natchez"

12:49 "The official party at Camp Natchez"

13:00 "The little children gather around"

Official with line of posed white children, refugee tents in the background. One child on the left is picking his nose.

13:16 "Old 'Auntie' meets them too"

Officials with older negro woman smoking a pipe.

13:33 "In the camps at Baton Rouge"

LS of many rows of tents.

13:50 "Registering the names of the refugees and compiling such information as will help in making further plans"

Negro refugees gathered around a white woman writing on a pad of paper.

14:06 "Vaccination old and young - as a first precaution. Col. Inman W. Cooper, Med. Reserver Corps of Miss. - one of the doctors."

Doctor assisted by nurse vaccinates a Negro child being held by its mother.

Long lines waiting to be vaccinated. Soldier hands small negro child something.

14:25 "More than half a million people were inoculated with the result that no lives were lost through contagious diseases."

Line of negroes, mostly children walking by camera, tents in the background.

14:51 "In the camp kitchen"

15:08 "Plenty of food for all"

Pan of people eating on rows of tables under a crowded tent. Young white children's faces in the foreground.

Various CU shots of white people, mostly children, eating.

Negroes being served in a food line.

15:41 "Enjoying it - picnic style"

Negroes, mostly children, eating on the ground. *

White children lined up to get milk.

16:11 "Mere babies"

Children at outdoor table

16:21 "It's wash day over in the colored folks' camp"

Lines of negroes washing closes in basins outside.

16:39 "Doing the family washing"

Negro family with mother doing the wash.

16:55 "Major O. Schneider, 156th Inf LA NG, Commanding Officer of the camp inspecting the tents of the 5,000 herein"

Major talking with negro man in line of tents.
Soldier with rifle over shoulder marching past line of negro lounging at tents.

17:23 "This - the neatest tent - wins the prize"

17:42 end Reel 2


Reviewer: katpooh9 - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 13, 2009
Subject: another natural disaster
It's all President Bush's fault.
Reviewer: JaByron - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 16, 2007
Subject: Misissippi Tover Flood of 1927
The quality of the film is unimportant as the silent images ring clear to the mass devaststion. For those looking for a more clear image of the glood and its impact, I suggest the PBS documentay on the 1927 flood.
Reviewer: junya - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 8, 2007
Subject: Sensitive shots
I was struck by the humanity that oozes from many of the shots, despite the poor quality of the video. At times, the camera seems invisible, capturing people being themselves. At other times, the camera engages its subject - and thus the viewer, by proxy. A wonderful find in my search for appropriate period footage.
Reviewer: 1mile2go - favorite - September 24, 2005
Subject: Mpg2 file didnt work
Almost 18 min of silent"Black screen"
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 19, 2005
Subject: Same Old Same Old
Quite interesting to see this film, and then compare it to the Hurricanes that happened in Louisiana recently. ThereÃÂs a number of striking comparisons. People seem to be willing to help each other out any way they can. People seemed to have been stranded for a long time before help came (love the makeshift dwellings they made in old railway cars), Politicians touring touring touring the areas, and not really doing anything (the President doesnÃÂt come out, only sending Hoover to get his boots wet). The living arrangements, or camps, were all neat teepees, they had contests to see who had the neatest one. And meanwhile, in the colored peopleÃÂs camp, presumably the same type of fun was happening thereÃÂ
SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata)
Norfolk TV
by NorfolkTV
eye 18
favorite 0
comment 0
Cambridge Community Television
by Cambridge Community Television
eye 27
favorite 0
comment 0
Community Television Network, Coon Rapids
by CTN Coon Rapids
eye 10
favorite 0
comment 0
American Libraries
eye 175
favorite 1
comment 0
American Libraries
eye 188
favorite 1
comment 0
American Libraries
by Frank Haigh Dixon
eye 204
favorite 1
comment 0
Feature Films
eye 12,597
favorite 25
comment 1
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 1 reviews )
Sheldon Emry
eye 7
favorite 0
comment 0
American Libraries
eye 117
favorite 1
comment 0
American Libraries
eye 151
favorite 1
comment 0